I am busy sketching the Mona Lisa using pencil and charcoal (unfortunately I cannot add the picture). I used pencil to do her face and head in the beginning and then used charcoal to start doing the dress. The problem I ran into was that the dress was way darker than the head because of the use ofcharcoal.

Now I need to make the head darker as well, to match. Is there I way I can do this? Is it even possible? The detail looks just like the original but now the 2 different tones on the artwork make it look pretty crap.

  • I think a very soft pencil like 6B would come close. Jul 26, 2018 at 20:10

3 Answers 3


I think that there are a couple of ways of dealing with it.

  1. Rework the head with charcoal, possibly using an eraser and add some pencil marks to the rest so that you have a bit of cohesion everywhere
  2. Leave the skin as it is (with pencil) and use charcoal everywhere else
  3. Use fixative (or hairspray) to knock back the darkness of the charcoal
  4. Use a mist of white spray paint to subdue everything
  5. Take it in stride as a learning experience and make another drawing

Have you tried using a matte workable fixative? I have found it works well in subduing the gloss of harder pencil lines which can make them appear fainter and also adds a mild sheen to charcoal which can make it appear a bit lighter. The charcoal can also be lightened up a bit by carefully blotting with a dry soft cloth, paper towels or kneaded eraser if you need to do so. Also, if you were using soft stick charcoal on the dress area, using a harder charcoal pencil in the face area to add more depth in the darker areas might also work well.


You can maybe cover the pencil shades by using the charcoal pencil.This will make it even darker, but I think that a tiny bit of erasing would just be fine.

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